The Burke Blotter: Are the 2014 Packers a Trick or a Treat?

Happy Halloween Packer Nation!

With the bye week upon us, focus has turned to handing out candy and dressing up for All Hallow’s Eve. The bitter taste of the Green Bay Packers’ 44-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints last Sunday night may still be haunting you but rest assured, the Packers aren’t afraid of no ghost as they take a much needed week off.

The Packers are also at the exact halfway point of their season and now is as good a time as ever to take stock of the team and where they are and where they can still go. Since today is Halloween, it would be rather appropriate to ask ourselves one question:

Are the 2014 Green Bay Packers a trick or a treat? Here are arguments for both sides.


It’s tough to label a team as a “trick” after a four game winning streak, but given how abruptly that streak was halted it is a fair criticism to ask.

The Packers once again struggled on defense against a top tier quarterback. After shutting down and blowing out the likes of Jay Cutler, Christian Ponder, Ryan Tannehill and Cam Newton, Green Bay’s defense was reduced to a pile of bones by Drew Brees. This is also after Russell Wilson’s slaughter of the defense in Week 1.

This time, the Packers were without half of their starting secondary (Sam Shields and Morgan Burnett were both out against the Saints with injuries) but Davon House had his worst game of the season a week after being touted as one more talented defensive back in Green Bay’s arsenal.

Then there’s the run defense. The Packers have the worst run defense in the league and it has become clear that they miss BJ Raji. Poor tackling has once again doomed the unit and running backs are getting into the secondary far too often. This could be a back breaker as the weather gets colder.

As for the offense, Eddie Lacy has struggled a bit. Yes he had the big game against the Vikings and had a decent receiving game against the Saints but he has not yet stacked back-to-back solid games in his sophomore season. He still seems far too hesitant at times and is no making the decision to cut back and go forward like he was last season.

If all the above struggles continue, the Packers will potentially be fighting for a playoff all the way until Week 17 for a second year in a row.


Now for the good news.

Aaron Rodgers is as proficient as ever. Don’t let the game against the Saints fool you. Once again a tipped ball forced an interception (two of Rodgers’ three picks this season have been a result of his receiver batting the ball in the air) and he also tweaked his hamstring which all but eliminated his mobility.
Rodgers has 19 touchdown passes to only three interceptions. He is on pace to finish the season with 38 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions.

That’s pretty close to his 2011 MVP performance and he has to be in the conversation for the 2014 award.

His wide receivers also are having a spectacular season. Jordy Nelson is once again proving that despite his new contract he is still underpaid. All Randall Cobb does is catch touchdowns (apologies to Cris Carter for that one) and even rookie Davante Adams has gotten in on the act. Despite the departure of James Jones, the Green Bay receivers haven’t missed a beat.

The news also isn’t all bad on defense. Mike Daniels has played well all season and is clearly the team’s vocal leader on that side of the ball. Letroy Guion has stepped up to fill the hole left by Raji after looking absolutely putrid early in the season and even Datone Jones was showing improvement before he got hurt.

The best part of the defense has been a veteran reborn and a rookie who has been playing like a veteran.

Julius Peppers marks the first “big name” free agent the Packers had signed since Charles Woodson in 2006 and Peppers has shown he has plenty left in the tank. Whether it’s been with his hand on the ground or standing up as a linebacker, Green Bay’s “elephant” man has earned every penny of that contract and has injected much needed life into the Packers’ pass rush.

Rookie safety HaHa Clinton-Dix has erased the bitter taste left in the mouth of Packers fans by the departed M.D. Jennings. Clinton-Dix has shown a nose for the ball and isn’t afraid to tackle. He can play both the deep safety position as well as getting up towards the line of scrimmage to help with the pass rush or the run defense. He has room to grow (he is a rookie after all) but there is enough there to show that he can be the safety of the future for the Packers.

So enjoy your bye week, Packer Nation. It’s been overall a sweet start to the 2014 season.

Let’s just hope the spooks are dormant and the ghosts are busted as the Packers make their push for Super Bowl XLIX in these final eight games.


Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and


25 thoughts on “The Burke Blotter: Are the 2014 Packers a Trick or a Treat?

  1. Nice analysis Kris. Overall I’d say this team is more of the glass half full variety (treat) than empty (trick). I’d quibble with your analysis of the run D though. Outside of 1/2 of 2010, Raji has never been a dominant run stuffing NT who can also collapse the pocket. Guion is no savior. Neither is D Jones. And our ILBs are every bit as putrid as the safety play was last year. If or until someone steps up in the middle of the front 7, this is not a super bowl team.

    Playoff team? Yes. Division winning? Yes. Truly elite? No.

    1. Packers are truly elite in many ways! And I think you will see a nice D job later in the year…

      1. Hope you are right. I really do. But with some small fluctuations, this has been basically the same team since week 1 of 2012. I don’t see it changing.

        1. Bearmeat – the team is changing, but it’s slow change. Since 2012 we have Lacy and a ground game. The defense has improved with Dix, Peppers and maybe ILB if Lattimore and Barrington continue to make progress. What we really need is at one, preferably 2 impact players on the DL. Maybe D. Jones and Daniels can get there but probably not this season. Thanks, Since ’61

          1. Yeah. That’s a lot of “maybe’s” 61. It seems every SB champ gets hot and has their “maybe’s” answered just in time. It could happen for us – and the figures you mention would have to be the ones that step up.

            I just don’t see it happening.

  2. If anyone thinks that B.J. Raji would be our savior for the run D, you are high on the malt liquor.

  3. With TT and MM at the helm, how dare anyone even contemplate that the Pack are a “trick” rather than a “treat.”

    If not for injuries, bad officials calls, and other bad luck the Pack would be undefeated.

    Just can’t wait for Dom to unleash the D the second half of the season.

        1. I have plenty of nerve Croat trust me. This guy has the audacity to criticize the greatest G.M. in Packers history? Yeah, he went too far with his comments. Ted has a super bowl ring and it was well earned. He did it his way and his way is going strong.
          Ted Thompson is the single most important person in the Packers franchise other than Aaron Rodgers of course. Any GM who earns a ring gets a lifetime free pass. This is how it goes. Favre got one, Holmgren got one and Wolf got one. Ted should be exempt for anything he does in the future. He’s earned that right in my professional opinion.

          1. Ted, maybe I understood BubblerBoy wrongly, but I really think that TT & MM doing great job for Packers… It is always easy to talk how somebody else would do the job better without be responsible for claims! TT picks are wonderful when you take in consideration at what position he is picking! That is my opinion!

  4. GB is half full. They have enough to contend. If someone steps up on the D-line or at ILB, they have a chance in the post-season. But I do get what Archie and Big T have been saying: since having the indispensable elite QB fall into his lap in ’05, TT has not added very many Red or Blue type players, in part because GB has been good most years and has had only one top 10 pick since ’05.

    ’05: Rodgers and Nick Collins (both blues)
    ’06: Greg Jennings
    ’07: Des Bishop: UFDA Tramon. Arguably J. Jones & Crosby
    ’08: Nelson, Sitton & Finley – nice draft
    ’09: CMIII (blue usually), Lang & Raji
    ’10: UDFA Shields; Maybe Bulaga and Burnett
    ’11: Cobb:
    ’12: Daniels ? – jury is out on Perry and Hayward
    ’13: Lacy ? – jury is out on Datone, Tretter, Bakh, Hyde, Boyd
    ’14: Linsley, Clinton-Dix, probable reds. Too early for the rest

    Obviously, Collins and Bishop had injuries. Jennings, James Jones were cap and age casualties. There wasn’t much immediate help in ’11, ’12 and ’13.

  5. The only trick on this team is McCarthy’s play calling at times especially the New Orleans game. This team doesn’t need to pull out tricks to win yet he did it and it backfired. I think he can’t stand Shawn Payton so I give him a pass on that game. Shit happens when you hate another person and sometimes you do things uncharacteristic of you and MM did that game.

    This team is a treat. They will get that run defense shored up mark my effin words. MM promised a better defense this season and I believe him. Raji hurt us in the run game but the more Dom relies on Mike Pennel this second half the more job security he will have going forward. Pennel is the key to our season. I said it from day one and I’ll say it again. Give this guy more reps and unleash the beast damnit!! Pennel, Barrington and Clinton Dix will become huge factors the next 8 games!!

  6. The WR’s haven’t missed a beat??? Three times already we’ve seen the passing game go flat! Against the Seahacks, the Lions and the piss-poor Vikings, Rodgers couldn’t even get to 200 yards.

    You said so yourself that 2 of Rodgers (3 IMO) were because the WR’s failed to catch the ball.

    Even in the pass heavy game against the Saints the receivers couldn’t get open in the end zone, and the only reason Rodgers got 400 yards passing was because of a career day from Eddie Lacy.

    Look, I get that it’s been good overall, but i honestly think that this is the weakest the group has been since Rodgers took over. The weakest.

    But to say that it “hasn’t missed a beat” is a stretch to me.

    That being said, I have full faith that it will get back to it’s normal strength in time for the post-season. Adams will only get better, I believe that Richard Rodgers, Brandon Bostick and even Jeff Janis will become more of a factor, and probably most of all, Jarret Boykin will get back to his 2013 version of himself.

    1. I think the WRs are just as good (but not as deep) as they’ve been since 2012. 2011 was something else man… people get old. They leave via FA.

      Getting Boykin and RRod up to speed will really help. As will Nelson and Cobb staying healthy. And IMO you’re right. It’ll happen.

  7. The Packers have had the same 2 major issues for a few seasons, which are; inconsistent OL play, which has held Lacy back this season and inconsistent DL play which results in poor play from the ILBs. Lattimore and Barrington can be decent ILBs, probably not great, if the DL didn’t disintegrate on most running plays. The DL has made some plays especially in short yardage situations but overall they get blown out far too often. The OL needs improved play from both tackles and TJ Lang when he’s healthy. The other issue is lack of a genuine threat at tight end as a receiver and a run blocker. Beyond that I would agree that this team is a treat. Given the existence of the salary cap I’m not sure that the Packers can ever fully address these issues without sacrificing the teams strengths at the skill positions and at defensive back and OLB. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. As long as TT can get some cheap labor (rookies and players in their first 4 years), we can do it. The problem is that he missed three drafts in a row from 2010 to 2012. Things have picked up since the 13′ draft, so there’s hope that TT is back on track, and we’re on pace for another SB run.

      1. Part of the issue with the draft is our usual draft position of 22 or higher. By the time we get to our first pick the top OLs and DLs are gone. At best even with a higher pick the draft is a crap shoot. TT has done a good job with Sitton and Linsley. Bakh and Lang are pretty good but inconsistent. Bulaga is a solid Tackle but seems to be having trouble with speed rushers. On the DL no one is particularly consistent. But I have hope for Daniels, and D. Jones. After that the DLs we have are good for depth but none are impact players. We need at least one DL, preferably 2 who can hold the point of attack. Our run D will get another good test against the Bears next week. We’ll see where we are at then. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61

        1. Might finally be the year Thompson is forced to trade up for a top 15 pick. Impact ILB or NT. More likely ILB, considering he might resign B.J. Raji, and Mike Pennel can develop into a capable NT himself from what I hear. And A.J. Hawk is only getting older, plus we just don’t have another ILB opposite to him, unless of course Carl Bradford develops into something special.

          So many what ifs…

          1. No. They just need to stand pat and actually land an impact DL/ILB for once. TTs draft record in the front 7 on D is… well… pathetic. He’s just gotten the wrong guys. It’s not the coaches, because none of our also-rans on D have developed elsewhere either.

            Trading up is a very risky bet. What if you miss? You’d better land a big time player – and hope that your (limited) picks left can all hit too.

            Look at what happened to the Falcons with J. Jones.

              1. Yeah. We can all hope. That’s about it. Part of the problem is that GB has won more games since 1992 than every other NFC franchise. The NFL intentionally sets itself up to limit sustained success by the reverse order of the draft, 1st place scheduling, other teams pilfering successful franchises coaching, front office, and player talent, oh… and the salary cap.

                That’s not to say it can’t be done. Denver won 2 in a row in 97/98. NE won 3 in 5 years in the early 00’s. It’s just very, very difficult. You have to be really smart. And really lucky. Since the mid 90s, GB has been neither other than in 07 and 10.

                It’s not all TTs fault. He’s a victim of his own success. And the success of Ron Wolf before him.

      2. Problem is too much dead wood on the team to overcome, but I would like to see some rookies over Hawk.Sherrod and even Kuhn.

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